Takeaways: Grant Siegel Steps Up as WVU Baseball Sweeps Minnesota
The Mountaineers won their fourth straight game Sunday, and they’re undefeated in Morgantown to start the season. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t pretty, but they got the job done, beating the Minnesota Golden Gophers 7-4 for a series sweep. Sophomore starter Grant Siegel turned in his best start yet for West Virginia, and a late-inning comeback was the difference in the victory.
Siegel Steps in the Right Direction
The sophomore transfer went 5.2 innings, his longest start in a West Virginia uniform, striking out six while allowing two earned runs.
It’s taken Siegel more time to settle in than it has fellow transfer Blaine Traxel, but that’s not a knock on the young hurler: Traxel is the exception, not the rule. Randy Mazey is still trying to sound out where and when to use Siegel. He ran into trouble in his final inning, perhaps a case of being left in too long, but developing young pitchers and figuring out what situations suit their strengths takes time.
Sunday gave the Mountaineers two important wins: one in the standings, and another as Siegel took a step in the right direction.
Another Day, Another Late Push
The Mountaineers have shown a penchant for scoring at will in the late innings this season. It may be too early to label them the Cardiac Kids, but their ability to get runs when necessary—whether tying the game, taking the lead, or adding insurance to take a load off the pitchers—has played a big part in their 10-4 record so far.
Sunday was no different, as West Virginia scored five runs in the eighth inning after trailing by one. Not only did they go ahead, they scored enough to win decisively, playing a relatively stress-free ninth inning even when Minnesota managed a leadoff double.
A Moment to Appreciate Unsung Heroes
While I haven’t sung their praises in the takeaways like I have for players like JJ Wetherholt, Blaine Traxel and Dayne Leonard, outfielders Braden Barry and Caleb McNeely deserve credit for the job they’ve done this season, especially at the plate.
McNeely’s offensive stats: a .349 average, 1.212 OPS, five home runs trail only Wetherholt for the team lead, making him a tantalizing threat in the middle of the order.
Barry’s speed and ability to get on base make him the prototypical leadoff hitter for West Virginia’s hit-and-run offense.
It’s no surprise that the outfield tandem is always in the thick of things when the Mountaineers start scoring.